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Sen. Warner talks housing, Ukraine with Staunton officials, community

Rebecca Barnabi
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Sen. Mark R. Warner‘s visit to Staunton Tuesday was mostly about the future of transit rail but other topics were also discussed with local elected officials and community leaders.

Warner said that as of Saturday morning, the United States had avoided a federal government shutdown.

“There’s no state that’s hurt worse than Virginia when we do these start/stop continuing resolutions,” Warner said at Mill Street Grill.

He referred to the situation as “stupidity on steroids.”

Warner has championed for Internet access in rural Virginia for more than 20 years.

“I think post-COVID, we all realized it’s an economic necessity,” he said. The goal is to get 98 percent of city and county residents digitally connected through the Internet in the Commonwealth.

Warner said that the U.S. must continue to honor its commitment to Ukraine by funding the nation’s war with Russia or make a mistake.

“I think if we don’t do this, this will be the kind of historic mistakes that were made pre-World War II,” Warner said. “That’s a kind of grim comment but I want folks to know at least how I feel.”

Former Staunton Mayor Ophie Kier brought up the topic of the housing crisis, which is affecting Americans in Staunton, Virginia and across the U.S.

“There isn’t a location I go to that housing isn’t raised anymore,” Warner said of his awareness of the problem.

Under former President Donald Trump, investments were made during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the U.S. economy moving, but nothing was done to address housing.

According to Warner, the cost of groceries and gas going up is not the issue, housing is the issue.

“I think it’s time the Fed bring rates down,” he said.

Warner shared with the audience new legislation he introduced for first time, first-generation homebuyers. He also is introducing legislation to encourage companies to pay down payments for employees to buy homes.

“We need — a major housing program like we did in the 1970s because we are so far behind,” Warner said.

Before taking more questions, Warner made sure to let the audience know that positivity does exist in the U.S. Congress. Some Democrats and Republicans do get along. As a result, Congress handled inflation, stocks are up, the country is experiencing record low unemployment and is entering the future as a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) innovation.

Warner said that of the 12 top AI companies in the world, 9 or 10 are in the U.S.

Staunton awarded $500K for study to increase Amtrak’s Cardinal service to seven days – Augusta Free Press

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.